In Cyprus peace cannot be prevented
With this slogan and with the Cypriot traditional song of Dilirga-a symbol of bicommunal brotherhood), people outside the electoral centre of Akinci received the news for his victory.
With the highest percentage since 2003, and one of the highest than any other president in either sides of Cyprus (with the exception of Makarios in the south and Denktas in the north) of 60.5% Akinci is now the new president of North Cyprus.
Who is Akinci
Akinci run the elections as an independent candidate, however he comes from the leftist – social democratic party TKP (Toplumcu Kurtuluş Partisi – Communal Liberation Party), the predecessor of socialdemocratic party TDP (Toplumcu Demokrasi Partisi – Communal Democracy Party) and he is a well-known figure of peace and bicommunal collaboration through his term as a Mayor in north Nicosia.
In the first round Akinci was supported by TDP, as well as the leftist party BKP (Birleşik Kıbrıs Partisi – United Cyprus Party, Baraka cultural centre and the new leftist organisation Bagimsiz Yolu (Independent road). It was the wearing off, of the traditional parties and the splits of their rank that made Akinci to win the first round as the percentages of TDP and BKP together (the parties that run for elections and have seats in the parliament) where not enough to provide this victory.
Abstention also a big winner in the elections
The disillusionment of the Turkish Cypriots (t/c) towards the political parties was obvious in these elections as it was also at the previous parliamentary and municipality elections (when abstention reached from 25 to30%). The abstention in the first round reached the highest historical percentage of 38% which only was lowered to 35% in the second round.
However the polarization between the two candidates in the week from the first to the second round shows a reawakening of the political discussion in the north.
Both the traditional left and the traditional right wing were torn in two
In these elections the traditional right wing experienced a split in their votes. The two candidates running, Eroglu and Ozersay, both coming from the right wing had to share the votes. The two candidateships represented the two trends in the right wing. The traditional, nationalist, connected with the chariot of Turkey represented by Eroglu, and the new generation, the neoliberal right wing, that prefer to connect with the international capital rather than stay caged in the arms of Turkey, by Ozersay.
At the same time, the choice of CTP-BG, the traditional leftist party now in the government (Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi – Republican Turkish Party) to put as a candidate Sibel Siber, a member of the “united forces” (BG), a founding member of the centre right wing DP rather than a party member with more left wing references, not only didn’t help them to collect the centre right wing votes, did not help them either to overcome the problems they had since last year’s local elections, but it caused a split in the base of the party and in the CTP supporters, especially the more left wing ones – representing the older generation in the party, a big part of which voted for Akinci from the first round.
The second round as a referendum pro and against Turkey
In the second round Eroglu tried to transform the elections to a referendum pro and against the existence of TRNC, the continuation of the presence of the Turkish army in the island and the continuation of the rights of Turkey as a guarantor. He focused a lot on the Turkish people living in Cyprus, threatening them, that if they vote for Akinci then they will be deported from the island. This campaign of terror, didn’t have the result that he expected. Out of the three districts that are more populated by people who have come from Turkey, only one, the Karpas district were influenced by those threats, and very marginally since even in Karpas the majority of Eroglu was insignificantly low. Not even bribery, which it was reported that Eroglu staff was using, had any significant influence on the result.
On the contrary, the terror campaign gathered around Akinci, CTP that supported him following a decision by an extraordinary conference, but also the most militant trade unions of the primary, secondary and university teachers who made public announcements calling for a vote to Akinci, women’s organisations, human rights NGOs, even the NGO of Ozersay, “Toparlaniyoruz” (“we get together”), which defeated the Ozersay call of his voters to vote at will, and made a public call supporting Akinci. It was the first time that the left, the trade unions and civil society organisations united to support one candidate.
The old nationalist regime has gone
Eroglu lost the elections with 39.5%. Eroglu was the last of the candidates of the old generation that represented the old nationalist Turkish Cypriot ruling class that was immediately affiliated with Turkish capital and Turkish army in the island. Eroglu declared that he will not run for elections any more. His rival of the same right wing neoliberal camp, Ozersay, comes to fill the void.
Ozersay, a neoliberal cosmopolitan right wing, known as a technocrat negotiator of the Cyprus Question negotiations, took in the first round 21%, a percentage that is quite high taking into consideration that it was the first time he was running in any electoral process. So even if the t/c have got rid of the old right wing regime, the ruling elite has found a more cosmopolitan version of their neoliberalism, young in age and new in the political arena to build on.
Enthusiasm and hope in both communities
The election of Akinci was met with enthusiasm and hope in both communities for the settlement of the national question. People from both communities, celebrated the election results in Inonu square on Sunday night.
It was the first time in the speech of a new president in the north that the word “motherland” was not heard. On the contrary Akinci stressed his goal of achieving independence for the t/c community, a relationship of brotherhood with Turkey, and not a mother-child relationship, and the will to fight for a federation in Cyprus.
He also took a lot of time to mention a taboo issue – the suffering of the Greek Cypriots (g/c) during 1974, an issue that when the CTP member of the parliament, Dogus Derya mentioned in the parliament, had all the forces of the regime against her. Not only he mentioned it, but he gave an answer to any future attack from the nationalist forces saying that “we will work so that such a suffering will not happen again”.
Akinci took a lot of time addressing the Turkish people living in Cyprus, in answer to the, as he called, stale propaganda of the past about sending them back to Turkey, stressing that the people who work here should be part of the solution.
Finally he made a special appeal to the g/c president, Anastasiades, saying that they are the ones that have to solve the national question.
“I will do what I have promised”
On the first day of the presidency, Akinci had the first confrontation with Erdogan supporting that the north Cyprus and Turkey relationship is one of brotherhood and not of a mother – child kind, giving even more hope to the Cypriots in both sides that he will do what he said. However inspiring that confrontation as it may be, the national question, and the reality of the dependence of the north from Turkey will not be solved with declarations.
The unsolved national question stems from the conflicting interests of the g/c, t/c, Greek and Turkish ruling classes. The nationalist forces are regrouping in both sides, ready to intervene in case a settlement does not serve the interests of the elites. The economic factor is also one that has to be taken into consideration. With more economic sanctions in the north and more austerity in the south, the people get more vulnerable in following chauvinistic policies. The political will, shown from Akinci, but also from the Greek government that declared that they do not want to be a guarantor any more, will face the reaction of the ruling elites, local and international.
Anastasiades, on the other side, although he seems to be in favor of a solution, he is representing the neoliberal reactionary forces, local and international and he is involved personally in scandals. The neoliberal part of the g/c ruling glass is not entering the negotiation with a good will. Actually they are aiming a solution that will make possible for them to take control of the whole Cyprus through their economic power.
The only ones that will really have nothing to lose but to benefit of a settlement of the national question is the working masses, the ones that made the difference in the last elections.
Now is the time for a formation of a common front of all the powers that supported Akinci, in north and south, a common front of the left, the unions and the civil society that will create the conditions for a solution to the national question. This movement in order to succeed its goals needs a socialist programme, to be able to answer to the nationalists, fight unconditionally against nationalism, austerity and neoliberalism in both sides. A socialist programme that will plan the economy of both sides in order for them to gain the independence of both Turkey and Troika, that will include the non-payment of the debt to either of them, and plan the economy by taking the banks and the major industries under the control and management of the working people in Cyprus, so that they work in the interests of the working people in Cyprus and not the profits of the big capitalists. This movement has to unite with the movements and forces in Greece and Turkey, to gain the support and solidarity but also build a sustainable, peaceful united, federal socialist Cyprus in a united socialist Europe and whole area, on a voluntary basis.